Rare Rides: The 1988 Chrysler Conquest - an American Sports Coupe

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Quick badge swaps between Chrysler and Mitsubishi were common throughout the Eighties. Mostly a one-way affair, Chrysler rebranded Mitsubishi products as Colts, Plymouths, and Dodges. These captive imports generated revenue via Chrysler’s brand recognition while cheaply filling gaps in the domestic company’s lineup.

Today marks our first Chrysler-branded Mitsubishi, and it’s certainly the sportiest rebadge we’ve seen here. Presenting the Chrysler Conquest, from 1988.

Chrysler existed without a sports car in its portfolio for the early part of the Eighties, but did sell the Mitsubishi Galant Lambda as the Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Sapporo. Those offerings ended in 1983, and in 1984 Chrysler received its own sporty car in the front-drive Chrysler Laser. That same year, Dodge received its own Laser version, as well as Mitsubishi’s Starion (as Conquest), which Mitsubishi sold on North American shores since 1983. Chrysler had to make do with the Laser as its sole sports offering until 1987, when the Conquest moved mildly upmarket for its duties at ChryCo’s finest showrooms.

Fitting its sporty mission, all examples of the Starion and Conquest were turbocharged, making use of inline-four Mitsubishi engines. Displacement options were of 2.0 or 2.6 liters, and power was transferred to the rear through a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual. Starion was based on a revised version of the Galant Lambda platform, serving as its direct successor.

There were two different body styles of Conquest, due to Japanese regulations on size. Early models were all the “narrow body,” with a 66.3-inch width. That width (and the 2.0-liter engine) qualified for a lower tax bracket. As the Starion had branched out to the American market, half way through 1985 Mitsubishi made a concession and debuted a wide-body version. Overall width grew to 68.7 inches.

But the product differentiation didn’t stop with a width adjustment. Narrow versions were now considered the entry model, and went without an intercooler on the turbo. Wide body versions had an intercooler, and most often used the larger 2.6-liter engine. Denoting the upmarket models were ESI-r badges for the Starion, and TSi markings on the Conquest. Upon the introduction of the TSi in North America, the narrow body cars were called Technica. In select markets which didn’t receive any wide-body cars, there was a concession: a more powerful ESI-r trim in narrow body format. Power figures ranged from 150 to 197 horses depending on region, turbocharger, intercooler option, and number of heads (eight or 12).

Mitsubishi continued to fiddle with things like wheel lug count and axles for the remainder of the Conquest’s run. Things got narrower for the wide body in 1988, with a decrease to 68.3 inches. That same year the car was lowered by nearly two inches, thus completing its final look. 1989 marked the last year for Conquest and Starion, as their American-made DSM successors — Plymouth Laser and company — were ready for 1990.

Today’s black-on-black Conquest TSi is in very rare form with low miles. Located in Florida, it asks $6,999.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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2 of 38 comments
  • Cimarron typeR Cimarron typeR on Aug 26, 2020

    This is my favored JDM coupe ,based on looks alone, or perhaps tied with an FD Rx 7

  • Rick Rick on Feb 09, 2023

    I thought they looked so cool, and wanted one badly. The prices were high so stuck with the Daytona and Shelby Chargers. Finally one came along I could afford. I loved that car, but the electronics were a nightmare.. this is such a great looking car

  • CFS I can’t believe these comments aren’t 100% in favor of CarPlay/Android Auto. They don’t add much for music and other audio that you don’t get with just a Bluetooth connection, but they make navigation so so much better. Why is it better? Because inputting the destination address is so much easier. And I don’t need to think about updating my car’s maps. Plus, I can switch between Google Maps, Waze, Apple Maps, or whatever else seems best suited for my trip. Hands-free calling features are OK, but not such a big deal for me.
  • TheEndlessEnigma I've owned a VW in the past and learned my lesson. Any kind of repair was absurdly expensive which I understand is typical of VW nowadays.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Interesting how Stellantis (and can we take a moment to acknowledge how piss-poor a company name this is - it invokes....what....MBA marketeers failing at their job) is pursuing cuts to reduce costs instead of, oh I don't know, designing-building-marketing vehicles people *WANT* to buy? What has Stella done with what was Chrysler? Suck off the cash flow generated by Chrysler brands, essentially kill the Chrysler brand by cancelling successful models, eliminate any market advantage Dodge had by killing successful models (G Caravan was the #1 minivan until it was killed, Charger & Challenger *were* profitable, etc,) and progressively and continually neuter Jeep all this while ignoring component and build quality. What's done in return? Push Fiat as the new and exciting brand then watch as it fails in North America (did you know ONLY 603 Fiats were sold in the US in 2023). All new Stellantis releases in North America are Euro designs......that then fail in North America because they are not design for our market. The Stellanis solution? Fire Fred, Hank, and Jim and replace them with Apu, Jose and Bernardo. Yup, that will work.
  • 3-On-The-Tree To say your people are total monsters is an unfair statement. You can judge the Japanese government but to say the citizens are culpable or responsible is wrong. That’s like saying every Caucasian person in the U.S is responsible for slavery or the civil rights era of violence and discrimination against African Americans and are benefiting from it. That’s 79 years ago, the average Japanese citizen born during WWII has nothing to do with what happened. Even my Japanese grandmother who was living in Yokohama whose home was firebombed was just trying to survive with 3 kids and a husband fighting in the war. Just like every war the citizens suffer, I saw it in Iraq. You can’t judge the people from the misdeeds of their government, my mom was born after the war, you really think she is responsible for what happened?
  • Irvingklaws Was a must have for my wife's new car. After years of windshield mounts, trying to keep the sun off the phone, wires running across the dash, etc...it's been a welcome upgrade. Don't have it in my current (old) car, just a stock stereo with the aforementioned windshield phone mount and wires...which is fine enough for me. But if I upgrade the radio with an aftermarket unit, the first thing I'm looking for, after separate volume and tuning KNOBS, is Carplay. Note, I've yet to find an aftermarket head unit meeting these basic qualifications. The infotainment in my '17 GTI had both of these and was near perfect, I'd be happy with that unit in any car.